Saturday, June 7, 2008

Connecting Brooklyn and Queens: TriboroRX and the Winfield Spur

The map above is a detail of map of the 1929 proposal for the Independent Subway Second System. I'm posting it to show you the Winfield Spur. This planned line would have diverged from the Queens Boulevard Line just east of the Roosevelt Avenue station in Jackson Heights, serving Winfield (once its own town within Queens County, now a suburb of Woodside), Maspeth and Ridgewood before merging with the proposed Myrtle Avenue Subway to run along Central Avenue in Glendale and finally run alongside the old Long Island Railroad Rockaway Branch to the Rockaways, the route that the A train now takes - with a new branch through Southeastern Queens.

This was never built because, well, you know what happened in October of 1929. However, the First System was built to hook into it, and at the east end of the Roosevelt Avenue station is an upper level platform with two tracks that turn off into a wall.

Bobby at writes:

This was designed to provide through service to the Rockaways from midtown, and also to serve the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Ridgewood. It would have been a two track line arising from the Roosevelt Avenue station (the never-used upper level station, but also would have track connections to the main line), and curving southeasterly between 78th and 79th Sts. to Queens Blvd., then along the LIRR ROW into Garfield Avenue to 65th Place, then along 65th Place to Fresh Pond Road, and then along Fresh Pond Rd and Cypress Hills Avenue to a connection with the Central Avenue line outlined above. The line would be 2 tracks, and would be subway to 45th Avenue, then elevated to Fresh Pond Road, then subway again to Central Avenue.

If this had happened, Winfield, Maspeth and Glendale would have one-seat rides to Manhattan, and would probably look a lot different than they do today. As it is now, they're dependent on cars and buses to the train to get to Manhattan. Digging a subway in Jackson Heights and Ridgewood would probably be a lot cheaper than the Second Avenue Subway, but it would be difficult to justify the expense.

However, the Regional Plan Association has endorsed the idea of using the New York Connecting Railroad for subway-type service, and in this area they practically duplicate each other. With my mad graphic skillz I have drawn the approximate route of the NYCRR on the 1929 map.

In fact, as Michael Frumin notes, it passes close enough to the western end of the Roosevelt Avenue station that a transfer could be made fairly easily.

The TriboroRX plan as envisioned by Frumin and his bosses at the RPA could serve Winfield, Maspeth and Ridgewood, although not as centrally as the planned subway line. It would also not give them a one-seat ride to Manhattan, but rather require them to change at Jackson Heights, Middle Village or East New York.

As I've discussed in previous posts, though, it may make more sense to use sections of the TriboroRX right-of-way to run Manhattan-bound subways. In this case, we could dig the tunnel from Jackson Heights to the NYCRR and run one of the Queens Boulevard trains (like the R or the V) along this section of track to East New York, and perhaps further. In addition to a one-seat ride to Manhattan, this would allow residents of Western Queens to travel to East New York and transfer to the A, C, J, L, M, Z or 3 trains to reach other parts of Brooklyn.

We could also allow transfers to the M at Metropolitan, but then turn east at Fresh Pond Yard and run the line along the old Montauk Branch right-of-way through Glendale, Forest Park and Richmond Hill, connecting to the Rockaway Branch as in the 1929 plan or continuing on to Jamaica and potentially turning around in the Archer Avenue tunnel. Either way, we'd bring good transit to some previously underserved neighborhoods.

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